Nissan Intelligent Factory

Innovative manufacturing technologies aim to help company achieve carbon neutrality by 2050

Nissan introduced a production line at its plant featuring the Nissan Intelligent Factory initiative. This unique initiative supports the manufacture of next-generation vehicles using innovative technologies and contributes to the realization of carbon neutrality.

Nissan Intelligent Factory

Since its foundation, Nissan has honed its ability to manufacture vehicles through high quality and highly efficient production processes and the superb skills of the company’s takumi (master technicians). However, the business environment surrounding manufacturing is undergoing major changes. In Japan, there is a need to break away from conventional labor-intensive manufacturing to cope with an aging society and serious labor shortage. Unforeseen situations, such as climate change and pandemics, also need to be managed. At the same time, industry trends in electrification, vehicle intelligence and connected technologies are making vehicle structure and functionality more advanced and complex.

Nissan introduced the Nissan Intelligent Factory initiative at its plant to respond to these needs and trends. Nissan Intelligent Factory enables Nissan to:

  • Use robots that have inherited the skills of takumi to manufacture next-generation vehicles; of the highest quality,
  • Create an improved environment where a wide range of people can work comfortably, and;
  • Realize a zero-emission production system, thereby accelerating efforts to achieve a decarbonized society.

Pillars of the Nissan Intelligent Factory

1) Building the future of mobility: Response to CASE

Nissan aims to innovate its production lines to produce next-generation vehicles which will be electrified, intelligent and connected with more advanced and complex technologies.

2) Bringing craftsmanship to robots: Manufacturing at the highest quality

The refined skills of takumi will be taught to robots. Takumi will support the manufacture of high quality vehicles by further improving the workplace and focusing on new, unexplored areas of expertise that cannot be automated.

3) Making better workplaces with robots

Nissan will work to create an environment in which it is easy to work by using robots to help with difficult tasks. Nissan will also continue to diversify work styles to make manufacturing plants where women and the elderly can work with greater ease.

4) Zero-emission production system

To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Nissan aims to completely electrify all production equipment and switch to full use of renewable and or alternative energy sources.

Innovative technologies

The main technologies are as follows (figures in parentheses denote those applicable to the above pillars):

Simultaneous Underfloor Mounting Operation (SUMO) (1, 3)

  • Multiple powertrain components that were conventionally mounted through labor-intensive, multiple processes are now batch-mounted from a pallet.
  • The two-layer structure of the pallet, divided into front, center, and rear, allows 27 different module combinations (3 x 3 x 3) in a single facility.
  • Real-time vehicle position measurement and highly accurate (±0.05 mm) component position correction is used.

Automated tightening and alignment of suspension links (2, 3)

  • A process that used to require manual installation with multiple processes has been refined to a single process with automated alignment adjustment.
  • High-load work that requires high torque during tightening has been fully automated.
  • Adjustment by robot, with an accuracy of 0.1°, ensures high-precision alignment beyond that produced by takumi.

Automated headliner installation (2, 3)

  • Automation of a process that conventionally requires working in a high-load position. In addition, headliner weight is increasing due to the addition of intelligent and connected parts.
  • The installation of soft parts, which was previously difficult to automate, has been automated by transferring takumi skills to robots.
  • Automated clip insertion, which usually requires use of delicate sensing with the fingers, has been realized by using a force sensor to check insertion force in real time.

Automated cockpit module installation (2)

  • Robots reproduce the high-level skills of takumi to control variations and left-right differences during installation.
  • For a well-proportioned and seamless cockpit, a high-speed vision system precisely measures dimensions and corrects the position in ±0.05 mm increments.

New dimple welding method (1)

  • Dimple welding reduces the flange width of the door sash (window frame) by 4.5 mm, producing a better view for the driver.

Electrical systems that respond to increasing vehicle intelligence (1)

  • The increase in vehicle intelligence has in turn increased the amount of data that needs to be written. To meet this need, the writing stage has been expanded and the communication speed has been increased by 20 times.

Automated eight-pole winding field motor (magnetless) (1)

  • Nozzle type high precision winding device winds wires at high speed with high precision and high density.
  • Winding eight motors simultaneously enables mass production.

Automated paint inspection (1, 2)

  • Eleven robots inspect the body and bumper, achieving 100 percent detection of dust and debris (up to 0.3 mm in diameter).
  • Eleven robots inspect the body and bumper, achieving 100 percent detection of dust and debris (up to 0.3 mm in diameter).
  • Inspectors can check the inspection results with a smart device.

Integrated automated inspection system for specifications and flaws (1, 3)

  • Six robots conduct inspections of specifications and identify flaws.
  • The flaw detection rate is improved by using combined lighting for specification inspections and zebra lighting for flaw identification.

Integrated painting and baking of bodies and bumpers (4)

  • Zero emissions are achieved by using dry powder to absorb paint mist and by reusing paint waste.
  • Recycling air in the paint booth reduces energy consumption by 25 percent.

Dry paint booths utilize highly efficient air recycling (4)

  • Zero emissions are achieved by using dry powder to absorb paint mist and by reusing paint waste.
  • Recycling air in the paint booth reduces energy consumption by 25 percent.

IoT-based quality assurance management system (1)

  • Automated quality inspections conducted in every process prevent human error.
  • Inspection results for all production vehicles are automatically recorded, enhancing traceability.

Early operational proficiency achieved through digital technology (intelligent operation support system) (1)

  • Early operational proficiency is achieved by utilizing mixed reality (MR) technology to conduct on-the-spot operational training while viewing the product on the production line.

Remote equipment maintenance (1)

  • Equipment failure recovery time is reduced by 30 percent by using a centralized control room to connect information via the IoT network and to relay optimal recovery methods to maintenance staff in the field.

Equipment failure diagnostic system and predictive/preventive equipment maintenance (1)

  • Equipment failure diagnostic system and predictive/preventive equipment maintenance (1)
  • The system employs automated development of diagnostic logic and expanded use of highly accurate analysis methods.
  • Constant measurement and monitoring at 1/100-second increments and automatic detection of signs of failure utilizing a variety of diagnostic methods reduces production loss to zero as much as possible.